What's In YOUR Lunch?

Labor Day has come and gone.   Kids, teachers, professors, and students are all back in school.  As the fall season officially arrives, it seems we're all trying to get our schedules in order:  the free flow of summer is gone and the routine and structure of fall begins. With routine comes packing lunches for school or work.  

Let's take a look at your lunch.  It's an important meal.  It's a time to refuel and bring your blood sugar levels back to normal by providing the type of fuel that will keep your body running well throughout the afternoon.  Young kids often eat too little, since they are anxious to get out on the play ground.  Many teens skip on lunch or just grab an apple thinking that it's a great way to watch their weight.  If any of us at any age don't have a good lunch, our energy levels crash making us feel tired and cranky. It's also harder to concentrate and we may end up with a headache.  Many teacher's I know can quickly identify the kids that skipped lunch or ate a few fries. I wonder how?

What's in a good lunch?  

1) A MacroMix:  Main meals need all 3 macronutrient for best staying power. 

  • Protein:  chicken, tuna, peanut butter, nuts, beans, beef, cheese, eggs, ham, etc.
  • Fat, the heart healthy kind---just a little bit. Olives, avocado, nuts, seeds, peanut butter, other nut butters, oils such as olive or canola, etc.
  • Carbohydrates. Use whole grain breads, pita, sandwich thins, tortillas and cereals, fruits, and veggies instead of candy and things made with white flour.  

2) Color.  Go for colorful fruits and veggies to liven things up both visually and nutritionally.

3) Texture. Using a variety of textures makes a much more satisfying meal.  Be sure to mix up the creamy and crunchy.

4) Fun. Use fun lunch boxes, containers, baggies, or anything that looks appealing.

5) Variety. Same thing every day, week after week, is going to quickly lose it's appeal.  Changing what pack from day to day simply makes lunch more interesting.

6) Treat?  If you just have to have something sweet to end your meal, try a little 100 calorie pack, a Tootsie Roll Pop, or 2 or 3 chocolate kisses. Keep it small and use portion control.

7) Food Safety.  This is critical.  Foods that need refrigeration only have 2 hours at room temperature before harmful bacteria start to invade. You don't want to end up with a food borne illness. (This includes the time it took you to make your sandwich wrap in the morning.) Buy a few mini reusable freezer packs for your lunch box so you'll be sure to always have one frozen.  Then, use one!  MM groupies suggest freezing a 100% fruit juice box or a handful of frozen grapes to pack that day for double duty cooling use. Insulated lunch bags give you an edge here, too.

One of my favorite lunches:  a whole grain tortilla spread with light garden vegetable cream cheese, loaded with chopped lettuce, cucumber, red ripe tomatoes, black olives, and chicken or whatever is left over that day.  Into my blue lunch bag it goes along with my flower shaped freezer pack. Add a honey crisp apple (SO good right now, ) creamy fat free yogurt, and 2 dark Hershey kisses to end the meal.  And when it's lunch time?  Ahhh....just perfect.

Tomorrow we'll take a look at more lunch ideas...

Do you have a favorite packable lunch?